Thoracic Cancer



Duke Cancer Institute’s Thoracic Cancer disease group is nationally recognized for its innovative, aggressive and personalized approach to detecting and treating lung cancer, the leading cause of death from cancer in the U.S.

Our multidisciplinary group is investigating lung cancer through basic, translational, and clinical research. A wide variety of clinical and research projects are being led by our thoracic surgical oncologists, medical oncologists, and radiation oncologists, as well as basic scientists, population scientists, pulmonologists, and radiologists.

As a member of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) — an alliance of 21 of the world’s leading cancer centers — we are at the forefront of outcomes research.

Our nationally ranked lung cancer program can guide treatment decisions for the newly diagnosed or those seeking a second opinion.


Lung cancer survivor Lisa VanTress gets good news. (click photo to read her cancer story)Lung cancer survivor Lisa VanTress gets good news. (click photo to read her cancer story)Our lung cancer experts in Raleigh and Durham treat more patients than any other center in the country, offering more treatment options and better care, while striving to improve our patients’ quality of life.

Our thoracic oncology surgeons are national leaders in minimally invasive surgical procedures. As a result, patients experience less post- operative pain and recover more quickly. We perform more than 1,600 minimally invasive surgeries every year on all types and stages of lung cancer.

Our radiation oncologists have access to specialized techniques, such as stereotactic body radiation for early-stage lung cancer and radiation treatment planning aided by four-dimensional computed tomography (4D CT).

Our board-certified lung imaging specialists undergo advanced training in the early detection of lung cancer.

More Information: 

LEARN MORE about the lung cancer treatments
LEARN MORE about lung cancer screening


An important research strategy is the study of how individual genes affect oncogenesis and tumor progress. In the laboratory, some investigators are studying mouse models to determine the role of stem cells in the development of cancer in humans and in the development of resistance to treatment.

Clinically, researchers are trying to figure out how to use unique genetic mutations in an individual patient to personalize treatment and are looking at subgroups of patients to see how they respond to treatment.

A number of studies are also ongoing utilizing a large tissue bank and database of patients treated for lung cancer at Duke University since 1995.

For example, some researchers are studying epidemiological factors related to lung cancer — why certain patient groups respond to treatment better than others.

In addition, other researchers are examining the role of age, gender, minimally invasive surgery, and other patient-specific factors in outcomes, including quality of life.

Lung cancer clinical research at Duke has focused on biomarker discovery and development —the use of molecular signatures to improve the assessment of prognosis and the development of specific new therapies.

The formation of the Thoracic Oncology disease group has allowed for the optimal collaboration of the best basic science underway on the Duke campus with ongoing clinical and translational lung cancer research programs.

Our medical oncologists have developed several drugs that have received FDA approval. These drugs help improve patient outcomes.

Clinical Trials

Additional Contacts

Nolan Miller, Administrative Director
Phone: 919.684.1671

Debra Shoemaker, Assistant Research Practice Manager
Phone: 919.681.4768